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24 January 2011, 11:27

Microsoft woos hacker George Hotz

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Windows Flag Logo Where Sony Computer Entertainment has chosen to deal with alleged PS3 hacker George Hotz by instituting legal action, Microsoft is more interested in seeing where the two can help each other out. After Hotz posted on his web site his intention to go out and get himself a Windows Phone 7 (WP7), Microsoft Developer Platform Product Manager Brandon Watson tweeted an offer to send him one with the signoff, "let dev creativity flourish". Hotz first came to fame in mid-2009 when he announced an iPhone jailbreak.

CNET reports that a Microsoft company spokesperson has confirmed that it has been in touch: "Brandon Watson and GeoHot exchanged a few notes following Brandon's Twitter posting yesterday. They discussed providing GeoHot with a device. Microsoft is deeply invested in sustaining strong relationships with a wide range of developers and enthusiasts and are always interested in what we can learn from those communities."

Microsoft's approach reflects a new strategy for the software giant – rather than threatening hackers with lawyers and fines, it is offering them the hand of fruitful collaboration. The company is now, for example, supporting developers who want to use the Kinect 3D camera to bring gesture control to PCs by releasing the source code for controlling the camera.

When the WP7's compulsory DRM system was bypassed by hackers last year, the company invited them to a meeting at its Redmond HQ to look at ways to make it possible to run homebrewed software on their smartphones without impacting copy protection for commercial software.

In late November, hacker group ChevronWP7 had released an eponymous tool for activating a WP7 phone and running home-made software without using the official WP7 online shop. The group subsequently withdrew the tool. The copy protection mechanism for official WP7 software has not yet been cracked.


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